Former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas has opened up about his emotional breakdowns at the Premier League club struggling to play alongside players "not at his level".
Fabregas, 32, now plying his trade in Ligue 1 with AS Monaco, has finally opened up on why he left the Gunners for a return to FC Barcelona, despite being the captain at the time.
Having joined the club's academy back in 2003, Fabregas made his first-team debut under Arsene Wenger at 16 and went on to represent the club 303 times over eight seasons.
With only the FA Cup and Community Shield honours to his name, a frustrated Fabregas moved on to Camp Nou in a €29-million transfer citing the lack of quality in the team as the driving factor.
"I was the captain, I always felt so much pressure on myself," Fabregas told Arseblog. "I had to lead this team to win something. I gave everything. Sometimes, I used to go home after we lost and I used to cry.
"I used to suffer, I used to spend sleepless nights suffering. And then you lose a game, you're in the bus like this, destroyed, and then you hear some players laughing, thinking about where they will be going out later.
"This was going on for a few years. We were playing beautiful football and I enjoyed that side of things but I was putting pressure on myself to lead, to do everything and at one point I felt kind of lonely."
Fabregas went on to name-drop the two players he felt were able to help the club towards major European titles, who both went on to win silverware at their domestic rivals after their respective exits.
"Especially in the last two or three years, I felt Robin [van Persie] and Samir [Nasri] were the only players – it's not an arrogant thing to say, it's how I felt at that time – who were at my level mentally and technically.
"Many things came in my head, I have to admit I was a bit empty, I was drained mentally, physically, in my soul knowing I'm giving everything, knowing a few signings the club could have made but didn't happen.
"Seeing some behaviours from certain players or something like this made me feel I wanted to check something else. If it was not because of that, I would not have left Arsenal at that time."